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Expanded Covid-19 testing criteria will not lead to backlog – GP

The testing criteria for Covid-19 has been expanded with effect from Wednesday.

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ICGP leader Dr Mary Favier said she does not expect a backlog to build up in the coronavirus testing system as the criteria is broadened (Niall Carson/PA)

ICGP leader Dr Mary Favier said she does not expect a backlog to build up in the coronavirus testing system as the criteria is broadened (Niall Carson/PA)

ICGP leader Dr Mary Favier said she does not expect a backlog to build up in the coronavirus testing system as the criteria is broadened (Niall Carson/PA)

A leading GP has said she does not expect a backlog to build up in the coronavirus testing system as the criteria is broadened.

From Wednesday, people will no longer need to be in an at-risk group to be eligible for a Covid-19 test.

Dr Cillian De Gascun, head of the Covid-19 Expert Advisory Group, said on Tuesday night that they are keeping a close eye on the demand for testing in the community.

“Obviously the number of positive confirmed cases is going down … our positivity rate is going down. That gives us an indication that there’s perhaps not as much disease out there as we might expect, which is a positive finding.”

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

Dr Mary Favier, president of the Irish College of General Practioners (ICGP), welcomed the expansion of the criteria.

She told RTE radio: “The way to manage this epidemic is to find each episode of this virus, is to track it down and isolate it so that it does not spread – the wider we can can cast the net, the better.

“From today, anyone who has a respiratory illness or feels like they are getting the flu and they have symptoms such as temperature, shortness of breath and temperature – we are advising them to ring their GP and get a test.”

Dr Favier said capacity in the system has been increased and results should be back within three to five days instead of seven to 10.

She added that she does not anticipate that the expansion will lead to a backlog.

“It is not expected that will be the case. The amount of flu and influenza has dropped in the community so we expect less people with those symptoms to be looking for a test,” she said.

“There is not an expectation this will overwhelm the testing system. There have been some challenges with the system but it is important we know how much Covid-19 is is the community so we can manage it.”

Meanwhile, Education Minister Joe McHugh is meeting education officials and parent and teachers’ groups on Wednesday to discuss contingency planning for the Leaving Certificate.

The exams are due to begin on July 29 following a planned two weeks of student class time.

However, there have been recent calls from Fianna Fail and other political parties for them to be cancelled.

PA